Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In which Uri Avnery describes himself as an "Israeli patriot"

The sort of argument offered here has suddenly become very popular on the left. It involves pretending that recognizing Israel's right to exist means conferring some sort of abstract ontological blessing on Israel instead of the quite reasonable demand that anyone who seeks peaceful relations with the Zionist entity should renounce the practical goal of its destruction. From Arab News:
MUST A Native-American recognize the right of the United States of America to exist?

Interesting question. The USA was established by Europeans who invaded a continent that did not belong to them, eradicated most of the indigenous population (the “Red Indians”) in a prolonged campaign of genocide, and exploited the labor of millions of slaves who had been brutally torn from their lives in Africa. Not to mention what is going on today. Must a Native-American — or indeed anybody at all — recognize the right of such a state to exist?

But nobody raises the question. The United States does not give a damn if anybody recognizes its right to exist or not. It does not demand this from the countries with which it maintains relations.

Why? Because this is a ridiculous demand to start with.

OK, the United States is older than the state of Israel, as well as bigger and more powerful. But countries that are not superpowers do not demand this either. India, for example, is not expected to recognize Pakistan’s “right to exist”, in spite of the fact that Pakistan was established at the same time as Israel, and — like Israel — on an ethnic/religious basis.

So why is this weird demand addressed to the Palestinians? Why must they recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state?
Because their other option is to stake their future on Qassams and bomb belts?
I am an Israeli patriot, and I do not feel that I need anybody’s recognition of the right of my state to exist. If somebody is ready to make peace with me, within borders and on conditions agreed upon in negotiations, that is quite enough for me. I am prepared to leave the history, ideology and theology of the matter to the theologians, ideologues and historians.

Perhaps after 60 years of the existence of Israel, and after we have become a regional power, we are still so unsure of ourselves that we crave for constant assurance of our right to exist — and of all people, from those that we have been oppressing for the last 40 years. Perhaps it is the mentality of the ghetto that is still so deeply ingrained in us.

But the demand addressed now to the Palestinian Unity Government is far from sincere. It has an ulterior political aim, indeed two: (a) to convince the international community not to recognize the Palestinian government that is about to be set up, and (b) to justify the refusal of the Israeli government to enter into peace negotiations with it. [...]
Then recognizing Israel's right to exist would be a very clever thing for the Palestinians to do, wouldn't it?

No comments: